More so than ever before, rappers have been cashing in on dramatic sob stories about the pitfalls of fame. Lyrically, this might be the only blemish in Drake’s short yet astonishing career. On his latest effort,Nothing Was The Same, The Toronto native still “grapples” with the burden of success, but finally tones down the “whine” factor.
It’s a welcomed omission from one of hip-hop’s brightest stars. Many artists have burst on to the scene at alarming speeds. Drake’s story, however, stands in a category all of its own. Because his ascent came so suddenly, perhaps we let the complaining slide. After all, it can’t be easy going from unknown TV actor to critically acclaimed rapper. From the unexpected success of So Far Gone to the Grammy-winning Take Care, Drake’s entry into the rapping elite literally came overnight.
Now, Drizzy has finally taken a moment to enjoy it. If anything can be taken away from Nothing Was The Same, Drake continues to spit at the same level that took hip-hop by storm. Sounding tighter than ever, Drake’s chops further accentuate his talent as a legitimate wordsmith. And while the album’s ominous tones sound a bit too similar to Take Care, the shorter track list adds more punch with less content. Throughout the record, Drake slays it through slow, melodic beats and his signature sing-songy hooks. Thankfully, this time around, the focus shifts from blaming others to challenging relationships and personal reflection.
“From Time” offers an intimate glimpse into the treasured bond with his parents. “Own It” finds Drake questioning the true intentions of female admirers. Call this a strength or maybe a growing concern, it wouldn’t be a Drake record without recounting the journey from rags to riches to women. “Started From the Bottom” comes closest to a lead single with a memorable chorus. “The Language” boasts about skirt-chasing antics while “305 to My City” pays homage to a stripper’s grind.
Despite five-star production over incredible rapping, the record has its flaws. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” sounds reminiscent of cheesy 90s R&B. “Connect” takes sexual encounters to an awkward place. Luckily, these faults get lost among the stronger material. Unless you count the outstanding bonus track “All Me,” with the album’s scarce guest versus courtesy of 2 Chainz and Big Sean, “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” ends things on a high note. This comes in part to Jay Z sounding as if he came from The Blueprint sessions; no doubt building upon his triumphant deliveries on Magna Carta Holy Grail.
Those who appreciate top-notch production and Drake’s innovative approach towards rap/pop music will eat the record up. Hip-hop connoisseurs will of course tip their hats to the lyricist’s raw talent on the mic. For now, Nothing Was The Same keeps Drake firmly on top of the game. Yet, if the fourth record doesn’t produce a more diverse sound than the last two, things might begin to get tedious. 3.5/5 Stars.
Nothing Was The Same is now available for purchase.